today's issue of Uncle Fuzzy's Weird War II is about a topic that's been touched on before on these forums, but without BEAUTIFUL PICTURES IN GLOOORIOUS TECHNICOLOR (well, okay, grainy Soviet people's black & white crap, but you get the idea.) Short post, as I have stuff to do.
During the American Civil War, Union forces in one of the Western states hatched a cunning plan, loading up several donkeys with packs of explosives, and snuck them across the river to the nearby Confederate camp, intending to hide them among the enemy pack animal camp, light the fuses and run. Boom, instant immobilized Rebels. Unfortunately, the beasts knew exactly which side their bread was buttered on, and loyally trotted back after their masters, who started running faster. No note on who got away and who didn't. Note that this anecdote stems from one of Uncle John's Bathroom readers, and I have not been able to verify it via the Internet, as we all know everything on the Internet is true.
NEVERTHELESS, back on topic: During WWII, some genius came up with the idea of strapping explosives to dogs, and sending them under advancing German tanks. "Go fetch, Fido!" The explosives on the dogs' backs were triggered by a wooden lever sticking up from the package (visible in the attached picture), which was tripped by the underside of the target tank.
Unfortunately, you'd think that they'd have learned from their American friends; animals sufficiently trained to hold still while you pack them with explosive charges are also likely to be loyal enough to come back. Dogs were trained by putting food under Soviet tanks. So every time they saw a Soviet tank, they would, as you might assume, run underneath it, instead of under the Panzer III they were initially pointed at. "Nyet! Bad dog. BAD DOG! NO NOOOOO*boom.* The author of a brief piece on the topic at soviet-empire.com also mentions that the last place a dog is likely to go run is a moving, rumbling, shooting tank in the middle of a battle.
On the other hand, according to http://community-2.webtv.net/Hahn-50thAP-K9/K9History21/
In one day, alone, on the Izyum sector, these canine tank busters destroyed nine tanks and two armored cars. So feared by the Germans, that as soon as they heard the barking and saw the running dogs, they would frantically turned their tanks around and head back towards their own lines, for they knew from experience what was in store for them. One Russian correspondent stated that "the dogs have saved thousands upon thousands of lives on the Russian front." And he was right! Ya, I still think the idea is stupid. Known as "Hundeminen" ("dog mines") in German, they at least caused a certain amount of suspicion of stray dogs among Germans, and caused them to start shooting all dogs on sight under the pretense of the danger of rabies, at least partially contributing to a marked shortage of dogs on the Eastern Front. The idea of anti-tank dogs was rapidly phased out after 1942.
Even as early as 1941 special service units (Spets sluzhba) started to be formed for combating the enemy's tanks. Each unit consisted of four companies with 126 dogs in each company, making 504 dogs in each unit. Altogether during the war there were two special service regiments formed and 168 independent units, battalions, companies and platoons. The dogs selected for the special service units were strong and healthy and possessed plenty of stamina. Their training was very simple. First, they were not fed for several days, and then they began to receive food near some tanks: the meat was given to them from the tank's lower hatch. So the dog learned to go beneath the tank to be fed. The training sessions quickly became more elaborate. The dogs were unleashed in the face of tanks approaching from quite considerable distances and taught to get under the tank, not from the front but from the rear. As soon as the dog was under the tank, it stopped and the dog was fed. Before a battle the dog would not be fed. Instead, an explosive charge of between 4 and 4.6 kg with a pin detonator was attached to it. It was then sent under the enemy tanks. Anti-tank dogs were employed in the biggest battles, before Moscow, before Stalingrad, and at Kursk. The dogs destroyed a sufficient number of tanks for the survivors to be considered worthy of the honor of taking part in the victory parade in the Red Square.
On a less horrible note (well, not so horrible if you don't like dogs), the Russians frequently used dogs to ferry supplies to wounded soldiers during the second Russo-Japanese war.
Completely unrelated, but nonetheless pretty funny, while looking for additional sources about supposed Japanese anti-tank dogs (mentioned on a forum) on lonesentry.com intelligence bulletins, I stumbled on this extract from a German publication in North Africa:
"On the Tobruk front a large force of Italians attacked an enemy cyclist, causing him to dismount. After heavy and prolonged fighting they were able to puncture his tires. The front wheel was destroyed, and the loss of the rear wheel must also be considered possible. The handlebars are in our hands, but possession of the frame is still being bitterly contested."
If anyone finds any info on Japanese use of anti-tank dogs, please feel free to post--I wasn't able to locate anything useful before my laptop battery ran out. I suspect, however, that while this is possible, the Japanese had enough soldiers willing to take over this task personally rather than having to delegate it to dogs. This is where I found the mention:
I love these threads, nice work Fuzzy.
So much time!!!
Poor doogy's.:( Stupid commie pigs!
I actually think that first pic a modern staged situation. I remember reading about that exact pic.
"ITALIAN WAR COMMUNIQUE""On the Tobruk front a large force of Italians attacked an enemy cyclist, causing him to dismount. After heavy and prolonged fighting they were able to puncture his tires. The front wheel was destroyed, and the loss of the rear wheel must also be considered possible. The handlebars are in our hands, but possession of the frame is still being bitterly contested."
"H. Q. Royal Italian Army"
No! I'm Spamacus!
17th June 2003
Still amazes me what some of the military strategist geniuses (...?) came up with during the war. I thought it would have been obvious to the Germans the first time they saw these weapons, even in the primitive region of the Soviet Union occupied by sub-humans, that dogs with long wooden poles sticking up while looking unusually fat probably were not coming to lick them on the cheek...
GauntletI actually think that first pic a modern staged situation. I remember reading about that exact pic.[/quote]
Yeah I was wondering about it; the quality seems too good. Nonetheless, it illustrates the idea nicely, and there is a real dearth of pictures on the topic. A lot of resources even seem to feel that it is an apocryphal story, so I'll take what I can find! :-)
[quote=Ensign Riles]I thought it would have been obvious to the Germans the first time they saw these weapons, even in the primitive region of the Soviet Union occupied by sub-humans, that dogs with long wooden poles sticking up while looking unusually fat probably were not coming to lick them on the cheek...
That's why they started shooting them on sight...
Interesting ideas. Not cool about the dogs though. :(
Dr.FritzInteresting ideas. Not cool about the dogs though. :(
What is better :
1. Waste a hundred soldiers, or few tanks, trying to take a panzer out
2. Waste a dog to kill a very valuable enemy asset